This Kindergarten Teacher is Now a Kindergarten Mom – Who Wants to Apologize

wpid-wp-1441391990182.jpegAs I send my first child off to kindergarten, I want to apologize to the parents of my all kindergarten students. I taught for five years before I had children. Being a parent is NOT a prerequisite to teaching. Not ever. I was a darn good teacher without children. However, now that I am a kindergarten parent myself, I would like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t truly understand everything. I sympathized, but I didn’t empathize.

I would like to go back and teach my childless teaching self a few things. Here we go.

It really hurts. It hurts because that child has been with me for 24 hours a day for five and half years… and now I have to let him go AWAY FROM ME FOR THE ENTIRE DAY?! My teacher self wasn’t patient enough with the sappy parents and the maudlin first days of school.

I still see that child as a baby. You, the teacher, will see him as an independent person, with habits and a personality and a learning style. To me, he is still the person whom I dress in jammies and snuggle when sick.

It’s really freaking scary. It’s scary for so many reasons. I have been there for every single injury, every single success, every single wrongdoing, and every single snub. Now what? All these things will still happen, but I WILL NEVER KNOW?

It’s really freaking scary because of the way time is bending all wrong since he was born. “The days are long but the years are short.” Becoming a mother five years ago has altered my sense of time. It feels like an eternity ago, and the blink of an eye. It’s confusing and gut-wrenching.

It’s really freaking scary because I don’t know you. No offense, but you.are.a.stranger. I never fully grasped that fact when I was a teacher. My son and I met you for like thirty seconds. He doesn’t trust people easily, and now his every need depends on you. His physical safety. His emotional health. His cognitive gains. His ability to wash his hands of those school germs… (Will you help him keep his hands off his face?)

It’s really freaking scary because you don’t know my child. You don’t know what to do when he has a meltdown, or all the ways he can’t express himself, or all the amazing things he knows and doesn’t know. You don’t know that he can’t open his string cheese at lunch, and you don’t know what scares him.

I completely understand – with my brain anyway – that you will know my child like the back of your hand within a week or two. I did, with all of my students. But, I understand – with my heart – that you will never know him like I do. You will never snuggle him in the black armchair. You will never have to force him to brush his teeth. You will never wash his beautiful skin in the bathtub. You will never watch his face of pure joy when he jumps in the ocean.

He’s mine.

If you love him a fraction as much as I do, then I love you, and that is what my mother self wants my old teacher self to know.

I’m Just an Okayest Friend

I’m an okayest friend with extraordinary friends.

Some of my reasons for being an Okayest friend

Some of my reasons for being an Okayest friend

Both my family and my husband’s family have always supported me (sometimes even literally). But I also have this small mom tribe around me who have bailed me out of trouble a thousand times during this tumultuous time of life. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I have a lot of support. For this, I consider myself extremely lucky. Friends are not obligated to support me, yet somehow I have been the recipient of much more love than I have ever given. Unfortunately, I am sorely lacking in the payback department.

Recently, a good friend posted an article she liked about what it takes to be in her “mom tribe”, which made me think about my own mom tribe. I liked the article so much that I wanted to add to it. As two of my dearest members of my support team prepare to move away this month, I would like to dedicate this post to my mom tribe.

My closest friends in my tribe have exhibited at least one of the following traits:

You make me want to spill my guts. In one-sentence bursts between toddler demands.

You don’t say things like, “Kids love me!”

You don’t post selfies – with the exception of your profile pic, of course. We all need at least one selfie. And you don’t take gym selfies.

You tell me when I wear the wrong kind of shoes to the gym.

You make me pee a little with text one-liners in the middle of the night.

You don’t brag about your kids too much… cuz I’m sure mine are always gonna be behind.

Those times my husband is out of town and we are all sick, you might drop a loaf of bread or a box of cookie butter cookies or Pedialyte on my porch in a germ-free drive-by, even though you know I would probably never reciprocate.

One time, when we were all sick at Christmastime, you offered to come over and put all my ornaments on my tree. Because I hate that job.

You always lift my kid up to the throw a ball in the basketball hoop at the gym, even though you have four or five of your own kids to lift up.

You offer to watch my two-year-old twins when I’m in a terrible bind, even though you know I probably won’t reciprocate.

You don’t judge. We hear that trite phrase a lot, but you know that you don’t know what it’s like to be wrapped up in the Okayest Family anxiety/migraine/ developmental delay/ infertility/ almost died/ twin/ adoption/ transracial situation.  (Just as I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband deploy, or work on his second PhD, or have four or five or six or even two kids.)

We don’t clean our houses for each other. More importantly, we don’t apologize for not cleaning.

You have given us beautiful hand-me-down toys and clothes, even though you could have taken those items to the consignment store for cash. You pretty much gave me money out of your own pocket. I will pay it forward.

When I was super overwhelmed, you tapped me on the shoulder during church and said you were going to teach my Sunday School class of seven-year-olds. You would not take “no” for an answer. You demanded that I give you the lesson manual and march myself to an adult class for once. (I cried. With relief. In the bathroom. And then I went to the adult Sunday School to refill my soul.)

We don’t call each other, visit, or plan activities between the hours of 4-7 pm. It’s the unspoken SAHM rule. (Note: Germ-free drive-bys are permitted within this window.)

I get a little distracted from friendships sometimes

I get a little distracted from friendships sometimes

You don’t keep score. Of anything. Who called last, who gave more car pool rides, who offered to help… (Good thing, too, because I would lose. Every time.)

You didn’t care that time that I RSVP’d yes to your kid’s birthday party and then totally forgot to come.

You have offered to bring me dinner.

When I came out of intensive care, you had arranged a schedule with five weeks of dinners from church sisters.

You actually want to hang out with me sans kids, but you will settle for my three screaming toddlers. But you have responded to my pleas for girls night.

Two times, you brought me a donut.

When I was on bedrest, you arranged daily care for my toddler with different church sisters.

When I panic about a tremendous load on my shoulders, and message you a long rambling message begging for ideas to help me fix that problem, you respond right away. You don’t get mad when I don’t make time to write back to you, even though you made time for me.

You have caught a runaway twin of mine in a parking lot.

When my twins climbed out of their cribs and quit napping, you came over and laid on my floor and helped get one to sleep. (In case you don’t know, putting a toddler to sleep is NOT cozy and sweet like putting a newborn to sleep!)

When I tell you something I already told you, or I tell you about that cool new product that everyone knows about but me, you make fun of me instead of just nodding and smiling.

You ask how the kids are doing when you know they are sick/ have a big meeting/ appointment/ hard thing to do. I only hope I remember to ask about your sweet kids as much as you do about mine.

You have walked me through the IEP process and calmed my fears.

You have broken the Sabbath to watch my kids so I could break the Sabbath to attend a once-in-a-lifetime concert. (Not that I am condoning this….But, Bob Dylan? Jack White?)

No competition. Duh. If you have a cute party, I’m not gonna one-up you. I promise.

You tell me I’m doing good.

Why have you all done these things? You all make me laugh and you make me cry. You all hold me up. You all show true love and service through many of these things. This list is an amalgam of different friendships. I would be a lucky woman if I had even had one of these things happen to me from this list. You all know who you are, and I thank you. I can only hope that someday, when my kids are in school, and when I don’t feel so overwhelmed and wild-eyed, I will reciprocate. Or at least pay it forward. I only hope you can accept my apologies for not being able to reciprocate/pay it forward just yet… But I thank you for having faith in me anyway.

You all are not okayest. You’re amazing,

If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job . . . (a guide for adoption questions)

Genius. Here is what not to say about adoption, using a boob job as a guide.

And, yes, I have been asked most of these questions about my firstborn, who arrived in our family via adoption as an infant. Many of the questions have tapered off now that he is old enough to hold my hand and call me “Momma” in public, but I am preparing for the next round when he starts school. Would it be appropriate for me to just give him a tablet with this video on it and he can just show it to curious onlookers when needed?

 

Reblogged from Rage Against the Minivan

Video credit Jesse Butterworth

3-Year-Old Kid Quotes, Part 2

[This is the censored version. Sorry.]

Just like DaddyR: Don’t sing that song to the babies. They don’t like that.

R: The babies will be baptized? They will need floaties?

R: This is the fall-down potty. It’s okay. We can go to Lowe’s and get a better seat.

R: Momma, cut your poop-ons. [coupons]

While running to his blankie after lunch:
R: Blankie, I’m so happy to see you!

Daddy: Give me a hug.
R: No.
Daddy: If you’re sick, a hug makes you feel better.
R: [Hugs Daddy] I all better now.
Momma: Give me a hug, too.
R: No. I alde-ready got all better.

R: Daddy sucks the leaves up with his leaf vacuum. That’s what he ‘doos’.

R: I’m gonna go on a date. To Harbor Freight. [A tool store]

R: I will go pee-pee by myself. Momma, you come with me.

While pointing to our old black dog’s white whiskers:
R: Cleo has too many whites.

First-ever lick of a lollipop:
R: It’s like a binky!

Me: What did you today at preschool co-op?
R: I cried.

While I was pushing the triple stroller (which weighs much more than I do) up a hill:
R: Why you tired, Momma?
Me: Because this stroller is heavy.
R: You have a lotta kids. 1, 2, 3.

In bed:
Me: Don’t worry. Jesus will watch over you tonight.
R: Jesus can’t watch me. It’s dark.

R: Will you sleep with me, Momma? Not with Daddy?

Me: Who will give me a hug?
R: Not me. I alde-ready give you a hug.

R: I will dream about Fiona Apple. (!)

R: I don’t want to go outside.
Me: I do. I need fresh air.
R: I don’t need fresh air. There’s fresh air coming in the window.

To his brother:
R: Shake your booty!

About his brother:
R: Where we buy him?

R: Jesus is not our brother. Our babies is our brother.

While laughing hysterically at his brother:
Me: What’s so funny?
R: He has a PENIS!

R: Who gave you this toy? God?

To his brother:
R: Don’t be happy right now!

R: This house is dirty. We need to vacuum.

R: The washing machine is broken, Daddy. I think we have to go to Lowe’s. Oh no! They only have lawn mowers at Lowe’s!

R: I think we need a new baby.
Me: I don’t know if I can grow a new baby in my belly, but that would be nice.
R: We can go to the hospital. I can go with you.
Me: Oh? Is that where we get babies?
R: Yeah. Only 1 baby this time.
Me: Not twins?
R: No. I will give the babies back to the hospital.

While clutching his favorite book about Jesus that we had lost:
R: I FOUND JESUS!

While pointing to my shirt buttons:
R: Momma, I like your butt.

 

[Apparently, I am raising a semi-religious manly man who is a bit grouchy. I love him!]

***Bonus clip: Typical parents-of-multiples ridiculous mini-fight:
“Every time something important happens, you’re always making a salad!”

 

Run-On Sentence Life

I'm not *busy*. I'm just crazy.

I’m not *busy*. I’m just crazy.

My sister-in-law asked how I was doing, and this run-on sentence disaster is what came out:

“We’re doing great, other than I feel like a crazy woman with the babies going so fast in opposite directions. They are like puppies. And potty training at the same time? Insane! I put R on the potty, and then I have to herd Baby A out of the bathroom, and by that time, Baby B is in the bathroom, and by then R is kicking that one in the face (idly) while he tries to go potty, and by then the Baby A has climbed up on the fireplace hearth and is falling off, and then I have to leave R on the potty, but then he cries because he is “wone-wee” in there and can’t go if he’s “wone-wee” and by then, Baby B has climbed on top of some sort of wheeled toy and is actually being pushed by Baby A across the living room.”

Run-on sentence much? My whole life is a run-on sentence!

My days are crazy. People say, “Wow, you are so busy,” but it’s not about being busy. I have plenty of down time where I am just lying on the floor as happy babies stick their fingers in my nose and knee me in the c-section scar. It’s more about me always spinning in circles- sometimes literally. By the time I remove Baby A from crawling toward the dog, Baby B has crawled toward the dog. I spin in circles.

My whole day is fight-or-flight. My husband says this means I am just reacting to things. I think this means that I am just really sweaty all day long.

I taught Kindergarten for five years before this motherhood thing. I can easily wrangle 25 five-year-olds into coats in 1 minute flat, but I can’t dress my own three children in under twenty minutes. I can easily usher 25 five-year-olds out the door during a fire drill in mere seconds, but I can’t get to my own kid who is falling down the stairs before dropping another kid. I can easily keep 25-five-year-olds happily engaged at a lovely decibel level, but my own three children make my ears bleed.

I miss a few things from the old days, when my 25 kids got on the bus and went home at the end of the day. Now I have three children for 24 hours a day, and there are some things that I feel like I will never get back. That’s okay. I swear I’m not complaining. But, whew, I wish God could give me one of those days back right now, just for a little vacation.

My husband and I were introverts. We had a quiet life, but maybe that was the problem! Our life is so loud and wild now, even if it’s not overtly busy. If only we had been big partiers before children (ha!), then maybe this would be easier now. I think wild party animals and social butterflies get all the After-Baby-Attention because their busy social calendar screeches to a halt, but I’m here to say that maybe we should consider the poor introverts. How do we fare in all this commotion?

I wish I was that mom who gets all gushy about the noise and chaos bringing joy to her heart, but, as you know, I am not shy about saying that bedtime is my favorite part of the day. I love my kids, and I love their bedtime just as much. I long to get my house back for those lovely two hours before I go to bed. But shouldn’t I be celebrating this “joyful noise”?

Mr. Okayest says that we’ll get there. The kids are just too little to go upstairs together and make blanket forts and have raucous laughter echoing down the stairs while I make dinner in peace. They still require constant 100% physical effort from me.

I miss Sunday naps after church, making dinner in silence, and eating dinner without food on the floor. I miss reading the Sunday Washington Post, going to the movies on Friday night, and going out to eat once a week. I miss driving the car in undistracted (i.e., safe) silence. I miss not lugging a 30 pound diaper backpack everywhere I go (and not packing a 30 pound diaper backpack before going anywhere!). I miss a back and a neck that don’t hurt constantly. I swear I’m not complaining. After all, I did let the doctor implant two eggs in there.

I’m a crazy woman with a run-on sentence life. I promise you that I used to be smart, and creative. I promise you that my vocabulary used to be twice as large as it is now. I promise you that I never wrote any run-on sentences. I also promise you that I never said this sentence ever at all before yesterday: “We don’t put turtles in our brother’s bottom”.

I also promise you that I wouldn’t change it or trade it. To cope, I may cry, or watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, or shamefully snap at my husband, or drink too many Diet Cokes, or whine… but I promise I wouldn’t change it. I kiss their fat cheeks, I squeeze their cellulite, I inhale their baby head scent before it’s too late. I see  three shades of skin, three colors of eyes looking at me, and my heart melts sometimes. I am thankful. Truly. But I wouldn’t mind just that one pre-kid vacation day….

Enjoy Every Moment? Bah.

We spent eight years childless. We went through 15 (!) rounds of fertility treatments (including two IVF procedures), a miscarriage, an adoption, and a high-risk twin pregnancy that nearly bested me. After all that, you can bet your whatever that I am grateful for my children. Does this mean that I “enjoy every moment”? No, it does not.

I hear that phrase often. A lot of us young (young-ish?) mothers hear it. We hear it in the grocery store, in the check-out line during a tantrum. We hear it at church, when our kids are going three different directions and one of them is saying, “Don’t sing, Momma!” We hear it. Often, the woman who is saying it is a little older than us and has a dreamy look in her eyes. I can tell that she has forgotten what it’s like to be in the trenches every day. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she’s just realized that the trenches don’t matter and that time passes quickly. (Insert any overused cliché here!) She might be right.

I have heard other moms complain about this “enjoy every moment” thing on blogs and in person and in articles. I am not the first to write about it. Of course we don’t enjoy being up to our elbows (literally?) in poop. Of course we don’t enjoy multiple tantrums in one day (or hour). Of course we don’t enjoy fixing dinner/showering/facebooking while three children cry. Of course we don’t enjoy seeing our husband’s stress and disappointment when he opens the door after work to chaos, dirt, no dinner plan and a wife with dead eyes. So, no, we don’t enjoy every moment.

I used to feel guilty about that. But Okayest Mom is setting the bar lower. Okayest Mom has had an epiphany.

I went to the LDS temple, which is a peaceful place that we Mormons go without our children. It is not church or Sunday services – it is special. I was there for the first time in two years, after the IVF/bedrest/birth/recovery (I need an acronym for that). I was pondering my Mommy Guilt, and I knew it was not a spiritual feeling. I wondered how to deal with it. This scripture came to mind: “Men [& women] are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)

“Have joy” was the phrase that warmed my heart. It doesn’t say that we are supposed to be giddy at all hours of the day. “Have joy” maybe means that we feel the joyous moments, that we find joy in our moments. “Have joy” is a thing you can DO, not an emotion that you are supposed to feel. Does that make sense?

For those of you who are not religious, the other phrase that came to mind was from Bob Dylan’s song “Most of the Time”: “I’m halfway content most of the time.” That sums it up pretty well too. He isn’t doing cartwheels either.

If we can be “halfway content most of the time” and find moments that “have joy”, then we can drop the guilt for not “enjoying every moment”. It’s my new goal to REALIZE when I have joy, and appreciate it. I want to notice that moment when I have that momma-gushy-feeling where I feel like I could eat my kids. I want to notice that moment when they squeeze me and I want to die. I want to notice that moment when I know I would take a bullet for them. I want to notice that moment when they say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” or “I like your underwears”.

I’m gonna realize those moments, feel them and appreciate them, and move on.

 

bono

(Okay, okay, here’s me actually ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT. Me + Bono!)

A Survival Guide to Three Kids in Diapers

Let’s all just relax, take a deep breath, and stop competing to be Mom of the Year. Let’s just settle for World’s Okayest Mom sometimes.

I am posting this list because I often hear “How do you do it?” Well, I set the bar low, for starters. I know my kids won’t have a “normal” life right now, and I’m okay with that. I figured that admitting to some of my survival tips would help free other moms from some guilt. Sometimes other moms will “confess” something to me that I don’t think is bad at all. Please,  don’t be so hard on yourselves.

Conversely, unless you have spent 24 hours in my size-tens, don’t judge.

PS, I have come to the conclusion that I would have far more creative energy if I hadn’t spent of all it teaching five years of kindergarten. Those 100+ kids got my best. My kids, eh, not so much.

Here is a list of things I do that make me more sane.

1)      I don’t do chores during afternoon nap. I only allow myself to read, nap, watch TV, or blog. That’s it. Just four choices for me.

2)      I do not really play with the kids much. Seriously, I rarely do.

3)      I only do one big chore per day – and it’s during morning nap. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do when they drop down to one nap per day in a few months.

4)      I only go one place per week – at least right now while we are on a twice/day nap schedule. That means I can take my kids to storytime at the library, or the playground, but not both.

5)      I hire an 11-year old mother’s helper from church for a mere pittance for three hours a week, so I can do some other chores. She entertains the kids while I work. I don’t leave her alone and she doesn’t have to change diapers or anything. She is super happy to be making some money and getting “babysitting” experience. I am super happy to have some extra hands, but not pay an exorbitant rate.

6)      My mother-in-law comes  here for an entire day, once a week. I consider myself extremely fortunate for this one. That day is the day that I take my older son for a date to the pool, or get bigger chores/ shopping trips done.

7)      I let my 3-year-old play outside by himself (but he only goes if the dog comes too- otherwise he says he’s “wone-wee”). However, I do live in a private spot in the woods and I have a huge back deck that serves as a playpen. It’s so big that he can ride his big wheel – and every other wheel –while I watch him through big glass doors. Also, I have a very careful 3-year-old and I understand that not all kids are created equal.

playing on deck alone

8)      I have friends come over to our house for a playdate while the babies are having morning  nap and my older son is awake – rather than going to their house.

9)      I feel really really happy when they go to bed!

10)   I put them in their own rooms from a young age. And I am not the devil for doing it.

11)   We did cry-it-out. And I am not the devil for doing it.

sharing room again

12)   I do not go to them at night unless they’re sick.

13)   I have my husband do the grocery shopping. During a really hard week,  when it is more important to have my husband home than it is to have food right away, I have been known to use a grocery delivery service (which was not as expensive as I feared).

14)   I completely childproofed one room, so that we have somewhere to go in the house where I can completely relax.

15)   Our LDS church service is three hours long, and it’s during naptime. We have a system now that isn’t perfect, but it allows us to get there. We take two cars and go to sacrament meeting as a family. Then, Mr. Okayest takes the babies home for nap, while I stay with the older one. It’s not ideal, but we are doing our best.

16)   As for laundry, I do 1-2 loads of kid laundry every day. Kid laundry doesn’t have to be taken out of the dryer immediately because, well, it’s kid laundry. Who cares about wrinkles? I do the adult laundry, including my husband’s button-downs, on the weekends when we have two adults.

17)   My kids never get bathed enough.

18)   I don’t do chores after they go to bed. My husband goes to bed very early because of his work schedule, so the 1-2 hours between their bedtime and our bedtime is sacred couples’ time. Or sacred TV time. Or whatever floats your boat time.

Now, lest you think I have got it all together, let me assure you that I do not. I have been known to burst into tears as soon as Mr. Okayest walks in the door, for any of the following reasons:

  • Migraine
  • PMS
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stomach viruses
  • The dog
  • My toddler crying for two hours at the playground because “he wants to go home” and then crying all the way home because “he doesn’t want to go home”
  • Seeing a book that I used to read to my oldest when he was a baby and then sobbing because I can’t remember the last time I read a book to my current babies and now they’re going to have low IQ’s
  • Realizing that my 3 ½ year old doesn’t know how to play hide-and-seek and, therefore, has a lot of huge holes in his childhood from my bedrest/ recovery period
  • A mean librarian
  • A kid at the playground making fun of something my kid can’t help
  • There was more than one suspicious fluid to mop up that day
  • My babies aren’t cuddling me anymore because they are simply getting too big to cuddle
  • Not showering that day
  • It was the day of the week that Mr. Okayest went to grad school and was gone from 5AM until 9PM
  • All three crying at the same time (PS, I am now accepting applications for what to name this particular phenomenon.)

I don’t have this mothering thing all figured out at all. I just want mothers to relax and let go of the guilt and do what works for them. World’s Okayest Mom says it’s okay.